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The East African nations of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are grappling with a catastrophic humanitarian crisis as the death toll rises to 130 due to unprecedented floodings triggered by heavy rains. Aid agencies are describing the scale of flooding as a once-in-a-century event with devastating consequences for the affected regions.
Somalia, at the epicentre of the flash floods in the Horn of Africa, has witnessed 51 fatalities and the displacement of half a million people since the rains began in October. The National Disaster Management Agency in Somalia has declared a state of emergency as large portions of the country remain cut off and inaccessible, with roads and bridges washed away.
The town of Beledweyne in central Somalia is among the hardest hit, wholly submerged after the Shabelle River burst its banks. Save the Children reports that an estimated 250,000 people, constituting 90% of the population, have been forced out of their homes in this town alone. Amidst these challenges, the region is grappling with the aftermath of the floods, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the affected areas.
The Somali federal government, grappling with the aftermath of extreme weather compounded by the El Niño phenomenon, has appealed for international assistance. The National Disaster Management Agency stated, “The national army has sent rescue boats and emergency helicopters to help the people trapped by floods. We are appealing for international help.” The situation has been exacerbated by the recent Kenya & Somalia floods, highlighting the urgent need for collaborative efforts to address the widespread impact of these natural disasters.
In Kenya, more than 50 lives have been lost, and over 30,000 people have been displaced, with hundreds of houses swept away along the coast and in northern Kenya. Mandera, Wajir, and Tana River counties are the worst affected, with vast areas submerged underwater. Mandera, one of Kenya’s poorest regions, shares a border with Somalia and faces immense challenges due to its size and limited resources.
Tana River County Commissioner Mohammed Noor emphasized the desperate situation, saying, “We have requested urgent assistance from Nairobi for food airdrops for these people suffering because from Tana River to Garsen, the roads are impassable, and we cannot reach many people.” The plea for assistance comes amid the backdrop of challenges posed by natural disasters, including the recent Kenya & Somalia floods, exacerbating the already critical conditions the affected communities face.
In Ethiopia, the death toll stands at 30, with unrelenting rainfall affecting the Gambella, Afar, and Somali regions. Children are reported among the victims, having drowned while attempting to flee the floodwaters. The situation is reminiscent of recent natural disasters, such as the devastating Kenya & Somalia floodings, highlighting the region’s urgent need for comprehensive disaster preparedness and response measures.
Scientists underscore the role of climate change in exacerbating extreme weather events globally, including in the Horn of Africa. The region, which recently experienced the worst drought in 40 years, is now grappling with the aftermath of devastating floods, highlighting the urgent need for coordinated international efforts to address the interconnected challenges posed by climate change.